According to Google’s own documentation, there are three main local ranking factors

 Relevance — how much your business matches the user’s query. 

Distance — how close you are to the search user. 

Prominence — how well-known and well-liked the business is. 

Google Maps and Google Search is solely interested in helping users find what they need to find, not help business owners boost sales & conversion. Keeping this in mind, let's look at how all these factors interact with each other...

Relevance In Google Maps Results

Google Maps GMB Ranking

First, you will need relevance to even show up for the search query. It’s probably the easiest factor to explain. There are hundreds of thousands of businesses registered on Google Maps, and yet when we put "north east marketing”, the algorithm knows exactly what we're looking for and the location. As you can see, we currently sit at #6 for that search term despite having the most reviews by far.

When filling out your company information, you should consider adding a relevant keyword to your GMB that goes beyond your legal name. For example, if you business is "Daniel's Cafe", you could add "Daniel's Tea & Coffee Cafe". A study by Moz confirmed that your business name is a top ranking factor meaning they're a very fast way to improve visibility.

Distance In Google Maps Results

Distance is probably one of the most important factors to consider when doing local SEO as in Google's eyes, it's on area which you can't in some way, dupe. For example, the user's location to your business is unique to that user and outside your control.

By default, Google Maps listings are prioritized into positions based on the user’s location, position “A” is supposed to be the closest and most prominent. Positions “B” and “C” are also provided, in case you need other options. You may have even experienced the weight of the distance factor in local results yourself. Many users are prompted to search for businesses near them through Google Autosuggest, especially when searching from their mobile device.  Autosuggest - "Cafe's in ...."

Prominence Factor In Google Maps Results 

This is without doubt the most difficult ranking factor in Google Maps to pin down. Google's own documentation claims that prominence is based on how we'll known in general a business is. Your company website’s web results, your GMB reviews, backlinks, and articles to your properties are all supposed to be counted towards your prominence in local search in general, and Google Maps in particular.

As stated above, location is dependent on data & location services being turned on users devices. Meaning all Google Maps listings are available for virtually any place worldwide, not only those locally. 

This is where the marketing aspect of Google Maps starts to show. Your GMB hub is where you can post offers, articles, videos, respond to reviews etc which in turn is linked to your website. Here is where the third "prominence" factor is taken from.

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